HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intelligence problem in Gaza

The suicide bombing in Eilat yesterday will not lead to a large military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The suicide bomber came from Gaza via Sinai, but current events in Gaza are so complex that Israel will think twice before getting mixed up in them. In other words, the internecine Palestinian conflict is now Gaza's best bulwark against any Israeli operation. When Fatah and Hamas are so good at killing each other, why should Israel intervene and spur them to close ranks against the common enemy?

The organization responsible for the attack, Islamic Jihad, tried to bring the struggle against Israel back to the agenda, but with little success. Six Palestinians were killed in Gaza yesterday, twice as many as the number of Israelis killed in the suicide bombing.
The attack in Eilat, a town the second intifada spared until now, raised fears of renewed Palestinian terrorism. Nine months had passed without any suicide bombing within the Green Line. And in all of 2006, there were only two, in which 11 Israelis were killed.

However, Palestinian terror has not gone away. There are groups, like the Jihad and Fatah "rogues" in Nablus, who have never stopped attempting to send suicide bombers. The combination of good intelligence, improved coordination between the IDF and Shin Bet, and the separation fence stopped them.

In addition, beginning with the tahdia, the unofficial cease-fire of January 2005, Hamas has held off - albeit apparently temporarily - from sending suicide bombers into Israel.

Yesterday's attack demonstrated again the unbearable ease of crossing the Egyptian border. Drug and arms smugglers and traffickers cross it without hindrance, why not suicide bombers?

Southern Command officers yesterday spoke about plans to build a fence and deploy observation devices along the border. But they too know that this latest bombing will at most result in an improvement to the protection of Eilat. In Israel, the financial investment is directly proportional to the number of fatalities. In response to three fatalities, the state will not spend NIS 3 billion to build a fence on the Egyptian border.

In addition to the porous boundary with Egptian, Israel's intelligence in the Gaza Strip is growing weaker. Relatives of the suicide bomber, who was from Beit Lahiya, said he had spoken of his plan for a suicide bombing last week. This could not have happened in Nablus. No suicide bomber in the West Bank would have risked babbling, knowing that the Shin Bet would be onto him immediately. The terrorists in Gaza feel relatively safe, as do Gilad Shalit's kidnappers, who have been evading Israeli intelligence for more than six months. Without a military presence, the Strip is slipping from the scrutiny of Israeli intelligence.

Yesterday's bombing also shows that the Islamic Jihad wishes to take advantage of the Palestinian political vacuum. Quite a few Palestinians see the Jihad's terror as a saner option than the mutual killing between Fatah and Hamas.

At present, though, there are no signs that the internecine fighting is abating - it has recently overflowed from the Jebalya refugee camp to central neighborhoods in Gaza City. Egypt and Saudi Arabia's mediation efforts seem pathetic. While the leadership of both organizations responded to Egpt's call for a cease-fire and a joint summit in Mecca, the militants continued fighting in the streets.

Any agreement on a Palestinian unity regime now looks remote. Of more concern to Israelis, so does any deal for the return of Shalit.


Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org